Updated: Oct 24, 2021
On Tuesday 28 September 2021, officials from European Union institutions, MEPs, ambassadors, diplomats, representatives of business world, Belgian politicians, Brussels-based think-tanks, representatives of media and distinguished guests gathered around the event held in Brussels, titled "Diplomacy on the Menu: Mediterranean Day", with the theme of the unifying power of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. Guests were served with exclusive flavours of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine during the event by the team led by famous chef Giovanni Terracciano.
In the event, which drew attention to the Turkish and Mediterranean Cuisine and the common culture, recipes from Turkey and the countries of the region were presented to the guests.
Tasting menus consisting of recipes from Turkish and Mediterranean countries were presented to the guests in accordance with measures of pandemic, while a selection of musical playlist Turkish and Mediterranean countries has been played to the guests with a live piano concert throughout the event.
In the opening speech of the event, Ambassador Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Turkey to the European Union, took the floor. Ambassador Mehmet Kemal Bozay stated that “culinary diplomacy and gastro-diplomacy have become one of the tools of tourism diplomacy in recent years”. Ambassador Bozay further noted that “our country is on the way to become an important brand in this field with its centuries-old traditions and recipes from the past, and with the "Diplomacy on the Menu" event, we aim to introduce the Mediterranean cuisine, which is the common culture of Turkey and the EU, and come together in this culture.”
Ambassador Bozay also stated that Mediterranean cuisine is more than belonging to a single country or culture, but is the history of common interaction, the product of cultural exchange shaped by the climate and geography of the Mediterranean basin. Referring to the culinary culture shared by various peoples living in the region around the Mediterranean, Ambassador Bozay added that Turkish dishes and products unique to the Mediterranean cuisine are one of the important socio-cultural indicators that Turkey is an integral part of the European cultural heritage and wealth.
President of Yunus Emre Institute Prof. Dr. Şeref Ateş drew attention in his speech to the common cuisine of Turkey and Mediterranean countries and emphasized that gastro-diplomacy is one of the most important elements of cultural diplomacy today. Underlining that it is even more important to organize such an event in this year, which UNESCO declared as the year of commemoration of Yunus Emre, President Ateş stated that one of the pillars of Yunus's philosophy of saint is to reach "total diet". Chairman Ateş said, “Yunus' philosophy of life envisages going to unity in multiplicity. Just as the air we share keeps us alive by breathing, the food we share together can be an energy for all souls in fruitfulness and abundance. That's why we combined with our EU Embassy "diplomacy on the menu", the common breath we shared after the pandemic, and the food we shared with the universal language of Yunus" he continued.
Speaking on behalf of ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network), Mr. Bekir Buğra Aydın emphasized that the event is aimed to be organized as a series and thus they will organize activities to promote the cultures of Europe and neighbouring countries through the theme of gastronomy. Underlining that food is one of the most important elements of culture, Aydın emphasized the importance of gastro-diplomacy for the unity of Europe. Aydın also drew attention to the green deal, sustainable agriculture, similar policiesand practices of Europe, which have gained more importance recently. Aydın stated that ECOPNET wants to develop their cooperation across Europe and globally, and that gastronomy, culture and art form an important ground for these collaborations.
In her opening speeches, İpek Tekdemir, Secretary General of the European Parliament's EU-Turkey Friendship Group, drew attention to her activities in the field of gastro-diplomacy and her work in EU-Turkey relations.
In the workshop, Chef Terracciano prepared dishes such as “Turkish Bulgur Risotto with Aubergine and Mozzarella Cheese” and “Tiramisu with Mascarpone and Turkish Coffee” together with distinguished guests. Organized with the significant contributions of Yunus Emre Institute, the event was appreciated by distinguished guests.
The event was held in accordance with the social distance, mask and cleaning rules, taking into account the COVID-19 rules of the Brussels Capital Region.
In the event, environmentally safe products that are in accordance with sustainable agriculture and production practices were being selected.
Pianist Halil Furkan Bektaş's concert selected from Turkey and the Mediterranean countries was greatly appreciated by the guests.
The event was organized in cooperation with the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Presidency for European Union; Permanent Representation of Turkey to the EU, European Parliament EU-Turkey Friendship Group, Yunus Emre Institute and European Cooperation and Partnership Network (ECOPNET).
ECOPNET team notes that the Diplomacy On The Menu event is planned to be regularly organized with different concepts and regions. The event was a huge success for our institution, which has taken the biggest part of organizational tasks. A team of more than 30 people have jointly worked for the successful implementation of the first edition of the Diplomacy On The Menu event. ECOPNET, as a matter of principle, highly values face-to-face dialogue between EU and its partners on different themed roundtables.